Widow keeps Ax Murder House, will auction off museum collections

VILLISCA, Iowa — Darwin and Martha Linn have always been interested in history; they were partners in helping to preserve the heritage of the Villisca, Iowa, community with their Linn-Olson Museum.

Come June 2 and 3, 2012, the museum’s contents, including hundreds of artifacts from Villisca’s history, will come under the gavel in a public auction hosted by VanDerBrink Auctions LLC at the Linn-Olson Museum, 323 E. Fourth St. (on the corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue).

Super Simplex movie projector  Among the historic museum offerings up for bid is this Super Simplex movie projector with variable anamorphic lens, which was made by the International Projector Corp. in New York. The projector was removed from the Rialato Theatre in Villisca, Iowa. It is reported to be complete and in good condition.

Many visitors have passed through the Linn-Olson Museum and enjoyed the couple’s one-of-a-kind collections, which include everything from chalk figurines to tractors, automobiles and Model T parts, a player piano, a Whizzer motorcycle, hundreds of pieces of farming history and much more.

Saturday, June 2, will see the sale of all the vehicles, parts, tractors, farm-related items, along with other lot numbered antique pieces, and more. Darwin Linn loved to collect old tractors and Model T vehicles. He was an active participant in area parades and displayed the vehicles in the museum.

Some of the vehicles heading to auction include a Ford 1923 Model T Coupe, an early 1920 Samson Truck, a 1926 International Truck, a 1918 Ford Model T Truck and a 1921 Ford Model T Delivery Truck. Saturday’s portion of the auction will have online bidding hosted by ProxiBid.com.


This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine

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Sunday, June 3, will see the sale of the “smalls” and collectible items, furniture, and more. There is no online bidding for the Sunday portion of the sale.

Whizzer motorcycle  A partially restored Whizzer Motorcycle, number J23572, is painted maroon and has nice details. However, the seldom-offered bike does not run at this time; it is missing the carburetor and the chain. Online bidding is available on this item through ProxiBid.com.

After Darwin Linn died, Martha Linn decided to sell the contents of the Linn-Olson museum — but she chose to keep and continue to host tours of the couple’s grisliest holding: The Villisca Ax Murder House.

Located at 508 E. Second St., the old white frame house is the site of one of the United States’ most infamous unsolved homicides. The Villisca Ax Murder, as it has come to be known, occurred June 10, 1912. Eight people were savagely murdered: Josiah B. Moore, 43; his wife, Sarah Montgomery Moore, 39; their four children, Herman, 11, Katherine, 10, Boyd, 7, and Paul, 5; and the family’s overnight guests, Lena and Ina Stillinger, ages 12 and 7, respectively.

When The Villisca Ax Murder House, which is several blocks away from the museum, came up for sale, the Linns felt it would be a great addition to their collection. They restored the home and opened it up for ghost tours. It also has been featured on “The Ghost Hunters” television show.

Listed as one of the most haunted places in the U.S., the Villisca Ax Murder House intrigues visitors who come to see if they can feel and investigate this mystery.

For more information on this and the firm’s upcoming auctions, call VanDerBrink Auctions at 605-201-7005.

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Outdoor Coca-Cola sign Vintage advertising pieces, like this Coca-Cola drugstore fountain service sign, are offered in the Saturday portion of VanDerBrink’s June 2-3 auction in Villisca, Iowa.

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